Welcome to Lachmuirghan, where fantasies come true.
You may have trouble finding Lachmuirghan on a map. That's because it exists only in our imaginations. Hidden in this secret valley, Lachmuirghan can be whatever you want it to be.
Imagine a sheltered valley and loch somewhere in the west of Scotland. At the head of the valley is an ancient circle of standing stones; at the lower end stands a ruined castle overlooking the bustling village center.
As you explore, suddenly you notice things are not quite as they should be. The village is the same, yet somehow changed. You notice that you have also changed--your senses are more alive than you've ever known. You stand at a strange yet familiar crossroad. Out of the mist, a voice calls your name.
Where will you go? And to whom? In this fantasy world, the choice is completely yours.
Tales from Lachmuirghan was previously available on the authors' Lachmuirghan website, but the stories have been revised and are now presented for the first time as an anthology.
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December 07, 2007
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Excerpt from Tales from Lachmuirghan by Pandora Grace
You may have trouble finding Lachmuirghan on maps and atlases. And you would be quite right, because Lachmuirghan doesn't exist--except here and now. So come with us on a stroll around our secret valley...
Imagine a sheltered valley and loch somewhere in the west of Scotland. At the head of the valley is an ancient circle of standing stones; at the lower end stands a ruined castle overlooking the village center of Lachmuirghan.
Among the narrow streets and the gray stone cottages, you'll find a cluster of shops: a general store, a butcher, a greengrocer and a narrow shop selling curios and antique jewelry. Up the street a little way, just past the garage, is the village bookshop that in these times also stocks DVDs, tapes and CDs. Up the hill, you'll find The God in the Valley, one of two village pubs. The other is The Royal Rescue, on the riverbank. The God in the Valley is the larger and caters to visitors and locals alike. Upstairs are three bedrooms which the landlord rents out when the fancy takes him. Very fortunate indeed is a visitor who spends a night at The God in the Valley. And if a weary visitor passes by The God, at the top of the village, surrounded by heather gardens and rockeries, is the Lachmuirghan Guesthouse: a large, imposing stone building.
Why these quaint names? Local legend claims The Royal Rescue was used as a hiding place for the Young Pretender during his escape to France, and the oldest part of the building does indeed date from the early eighteenth century. The God in the Valley refers to a much, much older legend. Some say that millennia ago the whole valley was constructed by a sea god for the human woman he loved. He set the stones at one end to serve as her calendar, provided a sweet freshwater stream, blessed the land with extraordinary fertility so she would never hunger, and surrounded the valley with magic to protect her from ills. But cruel fate intervened, she drowned in the river, and as she had refused the gift of immortality he had offered her, the god could not save her. Brokenhearted, the god wept for five years, flooding the valley where he'd buried his love, and then left, never to set foot in the valley again. But many say the magic remains...
Who knows if this is truth or myth? Certainly the loch is slightly saline, but the river leading off it is freshwater--an anomaly that has long mystified scientists and geographers. The fields and hills around are extremely fertile, the climate warmer and more temperate than the surrounding areas. The villagers are healthy and long lived and the air is clear and invigorating. You notice this particularly as you stroll through the village. You pass several villagers who smile and wish you a good day: a young woman pushing a toddler in a stroller, two women talking in front of a cottage, a good-looking, dark-haired man carrying a knapsack, who smiles at you as you pass. A dog barks through a garden gate.
Walk up through the village, towards the hills. Once past the last cottages, pause and look around you. In the shifting light, it seems the village changes. Is that a ruined church, not a stone circle? And are those dark shapes along the loch rocks or caves? It seems the mountains are closer and grayer--perhaps the mist plays tricks on the eye.
Or does Lachmuirghan change as you watch? The abandoned manor house you passed at the end of the village now appears to be a castle, complete with battlements and a ruined tower. The road back towards the village surely has more twists and turns than you remembered. Where did that farmhouse in the distance appear from? Surely it wasn't there a moment ago?
Returning to the village, anticipating a glass of something alcoholic at The God in the Valley, you notice a small teashop offering honey cakes and sweet cream that you missed on the way up. In front, two women stand talking, but their skirts are long and one wears a bonnet and the other a knitted shawl. A little way on, you meet the young woman, no longer wearing blue jeans and T-shirt, but long skirts and pushing a large pram. She smiles as before, and mentions that Angus is waiting for you at The God in the Valley.
Before you can ask who "Angus" is and how he knows you, she turns down a narrow side street and disappears. Meanwhile you notice the garage is a smithy and farrier, and several more shops have appeared: a baker, a wool and haberdashery shop and McGreerly's Apothecary.
Lachmuirghan has changed and so have you. Your hair is longer, tied back with a ribbon. You're walking faster, and as you go along, you catch sounds and scents you missed before: bread baking, soup simmering, roses in a garden, a kettle whistling on a stove, a child singing, a baby crying and a man telling his love what he plans when the bairns are fast asleep. Blushing a little, you walk on feeling a trifle envious, until you remember the mysterious Angus waiting for you. Ahead the sign for The God in the Valley rocks in the breeze. Outside sits the man you passed earlier, watching you. Is he what you want? Do you dare? Would it be safer to duck into the bookshop and get lost among the stacks and shelves? Or why not nip down a narrow side street which catches your eye? A side street that appears to lead down to the shore where the sun glints on the water. As you stand trying to decide, a voice calls your name from a window across the street.
Where will you go? And to whom? The choice is completely yours. Explore the village with us, and live out your fantasy.